David Astle

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David Astle
Born (1961-11-09) 9 November 1961 (age 53)
Sydney, Australia
Nationality Australian
Occupation Writer

David Astle (born 9 November 1961 in Sydney, Australia) is a Melbourne-based writer of non-fiction, fiction and plays. He also cohosted the SBS show, Letters and Numbers, as the dictionary expert, in company with Richard Morecroft and Lily Serna.[1]

His cryptic crosswords, appearing under the name "DA" in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, have developed a large following which includes musician Holly Throsby[2] and actor Geoffrey Rush. Rush called him "the Sergeant Pepper of cryptic crosswords."[3] In 2011, his portrait called DA was shortlisted for the Archibald Prize, painted by artist Amanda Marburg.

His latest book is Puzzled: Secrets and Clues from a Life Lost in Words, a blend of memoir, wordplay history and solver’s manual. He won third prize in the 1990 The Age Short Story Award and his first novel, Marzipan Plan, was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award. In 2001 he won the James Joyce Suspended Sentence Award for short fiction.[4] In 2008 his play Cowboy Humour will be part of the Short and Sweet play festival,[5] which has previously featured Astle's plays including The Gentleman Had An Axe in 2007[6] and The Mercy Kitchen.[7]

He has taught journalism at RMIT University and in 2004 was awarded a DSC Teaching Award for best sessional teacher.[8]



  • Marzipan Plan
  • The Book of Miles (Minerva, 1997) 1-86330-589-0


  • Puzzled: Secrets and Clues From a Life Lost in Words (Allen & Unwin, 2010) 9781742372785
  • Cassowary Crossing (Penguin Books, 2005) ISBN 0-14-300169-8; (re-jacketed as Offbeat Australia (Penguin Books, 2007) ISBN 978-0-14-300742-5)
  • One Down, One Missing (Hardie Grant Books, 2003) 9781740661416


  • The Gentleman Had an Ax (2007)
  • Cowboy Humour (2008)
  • The Mercy Kitchen (2008)


  1. ^ http://www.sbs.com.au/shows/lettersandnumbers/cast/detail/id/642
  2. ^ Carew, Anthony (2008-07-11). "A way with words". Melbourne: theage.com.au. Retrieved 2010-01-31. 
  3. ^ "Rush Hour www.theage.com.au". Melbourne: Theage.com.au. 2007-03-08. Retrieved 2010-01-31. 
  4. ^ "A mind field of puzzling pleasure - theage.com.au". Melbourne: Theage.com.au. 26 May 2002. Retrieved 2010-01-31. 
  5. ^ "Week 3 program | Short and Sweet". Shortandsweet.org. Retrieved 2010-01-31. 
  6. ^ http://assets.theartscentre.net.au/shortandsweet/rscs/2007%20Files/070828;%20S&S%20Season%20Outline%2021107.pdf
  7. ^ [1][dead link]
  8. ^ "DSC Teaching Award Winners 2004". RMIT. 1 October 2004. Retrieved 2010-01-31. 

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